Russian lawmakers yesterday approved a bill that would allow Moscow to cut the country’s internet traffic from foreign servers, in a key second reading paving the way for legislation that activists fear is a step towards online isolation.
Critics call the bill a form of “digital slavery,” that threatens censorship and possibly a sealed network similar to that in North Korea.
It is set to take effect on November 1 once it formally becomes law.
The proposed measures would create technology to monitor internet routing and steer Russian internet traffic away from foreign servers, ostensibly to prevent a foreign country from shutting it down.
Lawmakers in the State Duma, parliament’s lower house, voted 320 to 15 to pass the bill.
Authors of the initiative say Russia must ensure the security of its networks after US President Donald Trump unveiled a new American cybersecurity strategy last year that said Russia had carried out cyber attacks with impunity.
The legislation has been dubbed the “sovereign internet” bill by Russian media.
Critics say implementing the measures would be expensive and give vast censorship powers to the government’s new traffic monitoring centre.
Thousands of people rallied last month against this and other bills that critics say aim at restricting information and communication online.
Last month President Vladimir Putin signed controversial laws that allow courts to fine and briefly jail people for showing disrespect towards authorities, and block media for publishing “fake news”.